Since I'm dedicating most of this month to reviews of basic search engine optimization topics, I'd like to recap a topic that I haven't seen discussed much in the last 12 months.
The HTML Header tag, known as H1.
Many basic search engine optimization techniques were overshadowed in 2012 by Google's activities to filter link spam and website content spam. It almost seems like the SEO bloggers have forgotten about header tags entirely.
So what is a header tag? The idea of a "header" stems back to printed newspapers where the largest words on page one were "today's headline." Other large words on page one would be used to bring attention to other important stories. These headings created a visually easy to understand layout of the newspaper editorials.
Back in the early days of HTML programming the H1, H2, H3 ... H6 tags were created as a way to designate web page headlines and subsequent sub headlines and sections. These tags are still in use today and they are considered one of the ranking factors used by Google.
On any single web page you can designate your main headline by wrapping it inside the <h1>words here</h1> tags. If you have subsections of your page, you would then use the <h2> words here</h2> tag and so on. However I recommend against having more than one heading on any given page, any time you think you want to have a secondary heading you should create a second page instead.
Most SEO professionals have the opinion that H1 tags are useless, and that they are not worth the time to implement. In actuality, many SEO pro's once used H1 tags for prominent keyword placement on their page, instead of writing a useful headline.
For example, web pages written about Tacori's latest design might have the designated H1 headline of "Diamond Rings" instead of a more appropriate "Tacori announces their latest line of diamond rings." The phrase "diamond rings" is still in the heading, but it doesn't jump out as an obvious over-optimization of the phrase.
During 2012, Google has forced basic search engine optimization techniques to turn away from "trick" and towards "doing things the way they should be done." Therefore the headlines on your pages should be helpful for people and should be designated with the H1 tag.
I recommend setting up some basic programming on your website so your main page headline automatically appears inside the H1. Set it and forget about it, but don't spend time setting your H1 tags manually, you'd be better served to write more blogs for your website.